Karyes Pafsanias

The Creation of Modern Karyes Laconia (1945-Today

The early years

The liberation in 1944 found Karyes in ruins. Dozens people were dead, 90% of homes were burned down, the school and the municipality clock had been blown up. In the spring of 1945, the first compatriots who fought in Europe with the U.S. and the Canadian Army forces asked permission from their units to visit their parents' village and when they arrived in Karyes they faced the disaster. The news arrived in America and everyone was anxious to find out about their own family. A Karyatian of America wrote a letter to his wife and children, concluding:

"If none of my people lives, my wife, my children, my brothers, please I would like to be informed by anyone who knows about it. I owe him gratitude. "

In the summer of 1945, the first mail parcels with food and money-checks from America arrived. In the spring of 1946, 248 parcels and 14 trunks of clothes, shoes, food and agricultural tools, as well as animals arrived in the village. At the same time, in 1945 the "PHILANTROPIC BROTHERHOOD OF KARYES' LADIES" was founded, and in Athens the Arachovites were gathered for the first time to help the village by establishing in 1948 the "KARYATIC UNION OF ATHENS AND SUBURBS".

The healing of the wounds gradually began. The village houses were slowly being repaired and so did the building of the Brotherhood's school, while the destroyed Mataleio school building was demolished and the site took its current form.

At the same time, American citizens living in the village were being compensated and their homes were rebuilt. However, it was obvious that the golden era of the village was by then a history. The Greece's economic situation was very difficult and as a result the second mass immigration took place that would last during the 1950s and 1960s. Grace at an U.S. law specializing in migration from villages that had been destroyed by the Nazis, hundreds of young Karyates are leaving. According to a Brotherhood's survey, 700 young people came to America's "New Arachova" to progress in life, while immigration to Australia's remote continent began in the 1960s. Those who did not go overseas migrated to the big cities and mainly to Athens. The residents of Karyes from 1,788 in 1940 are reduced to 1,310 in 1951 and to just 601 in 1971.

The Karyates' Brotherhoods overseas

New Britherhoods

However during these harsh years the Karyates did not forget their homeland and with the reminiscence of the prewar Golden era, they did not stop hoping at the gradual regeneration of their village. Therefore, they are trying to help Karyes from any part of the world they lived.

As we mentioned in the early 1950s there was a great new wave of Greek immigration in America. However this time the compatriots decided to settle mainly to the Northern States in order to work in the field of industry and services. Therefore, it was decided to set up independent associations-brotherhoods in various cities. Indicatively, according to the Brotherhood census of 1950, there were compatriots in the following US states: South Carolina 287, North Carolina 271, California 137, Illinois 135, Indiana 65, Wisconsin 43, Missouri 33, Utah 33, Virginia 24, Florida 20, Texas 13, Wyoming 12, Colorado 12, Michigan 11, Washington 10, New Mexico 8, Louisiana 6, Arizona 5, Idaho 3, Montana 2, Kentucky 2, Iowa 1 and Alaska 1 (1.131 in total). Also, according to the same census in Canada, there were 124 compatriots in the province of Ontario, 8 in Quebec and 1 in British Columbia (133 in total).

Thus on the 31st of October 1956 the "CHICAGO BROTHERHOOD" was created, while on the 30th of March 1958 it was decided to establish the "BROTHERHOOD OF NEW YORK – NEW ENGLAND". Finally, in 1963, the Karyates living in Canada created the “BROTHERHOOD OF TORONTO”. At the same time the original Brotherhood in Gastonia establishes the “FOUNDATION” to finance the studies of young Karyatans in Greece and in America. Hundreds of young compatriots have since benefited from its services and become brilliant scientists. According to "KARYATIKA" (1972 ed.) the most important benefactor was George Gr. Karygiannis with his wife Fotini daughter of J. Goudes. Furthermore on April 4, 1965, the "KARYATES LADIES ASSOCIATION" was founded in Charlotte, North Carolina.

At the same time, the Karyates who have immigrated (after 1960) to the far distant continent of Australia were organized by the founding of "KARYATIS CLUB" in Melbourne and the "KARYATES ASSOCIATION” in Sydney.

The Karyae Parks

In their effort to help the village of Karyes, the Brotherhoods have as their primary purpose the organization of events where the compatriots will meet and the bonds between them will remain strong. Thus the First Brotherhood had pre-war purchased land in Gastonia (North Carolina) which it named "KARYAE PARK" to host its events there. During this period, therefore, the park continues to improve its facilities. In 1946, the "Heron of fallen compatriots" and in 1956 the "Administration Building" were erected, while in 1957 the grove was expanded with 3 additional acres and the new entrance was built. Furthermore the Brotherhood built in 1958 the Barbeque stand, in 1967 the Ballroom and in the early 1970's the Assumption of Virgin Mary chapel.

The Toronto Brotherhood in 1980, decided to follow the example of Gastonia-Charlotte thus acquired its own space, creating the "KARYAE VILLAGE" in an area of approximately 212 acres in Sunnydale, Ontario. Today it includes the Heron of the Fallen Compatriots, Grill, Refreshment, Ballroom, Playground as well as the Aghia Paraskevi and Aghios Panteleymonas Chapel.

Finally, the Chicago Brotherhood organized its own annual summer gathering. Originally at ZION National Park in Illinois and since 1984 at the now owned "KARYAE PARK" in Salem, Wisconsin, which has a farm-style character.

The Karyates' clubs in Greece

In 1954 a new second association was founded in Athens: "The Association of the Karyates living in Athens and in its suburbs THE ARACHOVA LAKEDAIMON" and Its' members began a vigorous effort to help the village. The Association consists of Athenian traders and young scientists who are mobilized to press the Greek State authorities for the progress of the village (road construction, lighting) and to educate the inhabitants about the new crops, while also published the first village newspaper "AI KARYAI" in 1954. They also attempted to overthrow the habit of wheat and potatoes monoculture and to plant trees such as walnuts, apples and pears that do not require much water to diversify the source of income of the inhabitants, so as to cease the suffering from sharp declines in product prices (eg potato destruction in the early 1950s). At the same time, the Association undertakes the important task of making direct contact with the North American Brotherhood in order to coordinate efforts to rebuild the village.

The year 1970 may be considered as a crucial point for Karyes, as the successive club of the two pre-existing clubs, the "Karyates Association" (S.A.K.), was founded in Athens. Since then the Club has been the worldwide Association of all compatriots and their local Clubs and Brotherhoods.

The local resident's initiatives

In 1955, an affiliate of the Christian Youth Association of Greece (H.E.N.) was founded under the name "KARYES H.E.N.", with the financial support of the BROTHERHOOD and the full support of then GREECE's H.E.N. President Sophia Mavrokordatos. The overall goal was to develop the mental and physical well-being of young girls. In particular, training programs in home economics, cooking, textiles, crafts, pastry, decoration, banqueting, the use of knitting and sewing machines were implemented in a house provided, free of charge, by the Leventis family in the "Koutsomachalas" district. In addition, hygiene and education lessons were provided, while theatrical performances, dances and educational trips were organized. Many generations of young ladies from Karyes have been trained through H.E.N. grace at these programs, which may be characterized as pioneering for the Greek reality of that time.

In 1975 the "Karyes Cultural Club" was founded by residents of the village with its members consisting mainly of young people with a strong willing for creation. Until today, the Club's activities are multifaceted and its main purpose is the social and cultural upgrading of the Karyes local community.

It should also be noted that in the early 1980s the "Karyes Youth Association" was created with a similar purpose. Although it did not last for many years, on its own initiative and in collaboration with the Tripolis Hospital and later with the support of Sparta Hospital created the "Karyes Blood Donation Bank" (1983). Its purpose is to cover all relatives up to the third degree of blood donors, but also to cover Karyates who have no relatives and are in need of blood. Since 1984, blood samples have been taken from the blood donations of Karyes every six months by doctors and nurses visiting the village from the Sparta Hospital. We should mention the contribution of Mrs Paraskevi (Voula) Dalakoura-Arvanitis, who has been the "soul" of the Club since its establishment until today.

The projects

The water supply and the road network

The first initiative was about the eternal problem of the settlement: the water. In particular, after the war, the necessity for the irrigation of the farms was raised again. Initially, it was proposed to construct a dam (an artificial lake). However, the plan did not go ahead and it was eventually decided to build a large tank at "Desi". Indeed, during the period 1954-56 the tank was built with the donations of the Brotherhood of America and of the Association in Athens, but also with the personal work of the local residents. Almost 13 kilometers of concrete grooves were also constructed, in order to transport the valuable water to all the gardens of the village and to farms around it. The water was provided both from the new tank-reservoir and from the fountain of Panaghia. Τhe construction of these grooves gave also an opportunity to construct new roads and widen the existing ones, so the village acquired an internal road network by then. At the same time, an $ 15,000 interest-free loan was given to the Karyates in order to build water tanks in remote areas of the Community (eg. Fotinou and Xagdaria).

In the 1960s the settlement's secondary water supply network was built in, so there was running water in every home. In 1999 with the a donation of US$ 100,000- by Panagiotis J. Copsiaftis and his wife Paraskevi, a drilling was carried out successfully at the site of Monachogourna resolving the water supply problem after more than 100 years of effort while a central sewer system was gradually developed in the village.

The creation of the internal road network mobilized everyone to pave the roads. Thanks to the contribution of Theodoros Charakas, who was a high-ranking executive of HALKIDA CEMENTS CORPORATION, ample raw material was provided and the cementing work of the village's roads began. With the financial contribution of Konstantinos Iliopoulos and his children Athanasios and Georgios, the main street and the "steno" street were cemented. Grace at the initiative of Nikolaos Mermighas (who organized a fundraise) the road to Panagia was also cemented. At the same time, thanks to the systematic efforts of Nicholaοs D. Kaperonis and Konstantinos N. Charakas, the cementing of the streets of Rachi was also completed. Theodoros K. Charakas Subsequently, many others were motivated offering money and personal work and within three (3) years the village had finally acquired a complete network of cemented roads. At the same period the asphalting and widening of the road that connects Karyes with the Sparti-Tripolis highway was finally achieved. Firstly, the south junction (Kokkinoloutsa) in 1970 was completed and secondary the north junction (chani Bakourou) with the construction of the Katevasia Bridge in 1980.

The new square

The compatriots were concerned not only for the creation of the necessary infrastructures but for the embellishment of the village. Therefore they decided the creation of a modern new central square. Τhe small square of Vigla was consisted of a small space with a ridge, the small old church of St. Andrew and a small community building (built in 1845) that could not serve the needs of the Community.

Thus it was decided to make a radical renovation. Panagiotis Paraskevas Matalas, a Karyatis civil engineer living in Athens, made a topographical note and a full study for a new square, grace at the initiative of Athanasios K. Iliopoulos, president of the Karyates Association. The project was grandiose, as it foresaw the expropriation and demolition of four houses, the old St. Andrew's Church and the old Community building. At the same time, it foresaw the construction of a large square, a Heroon, a new Community Building, as well as a magnificent new Church. Many people thought that it was a task impossible for a village. However, they did not take under consideration the strong will of a specific compatriot: John G. Darmos and the rest of the Karyates. Our compatriot was the "soul" of this great work. He founded the "Karyatic Church Club" with the purpose of erecting the new Church. Meanwhile many Karyates donated vast amounts of money for the completion of the new square and the new Church. Panagiotis G. Karygiannis and his wife Panagiota Dim. Charakas, with their will, donated a two-store house in Athens. The money from its exploitation (rent and sale) contributed to the construction of the new Church of St. Andrew. At the same time, there was the will of Demetrios Voukidis (or Koutsouris), who had left all his property for the same reason. Furthermore the bell tower of the church was erected grace at the donation of George K. Kostalas and his wife Chrysoula.

As it is written at the "Karyatika", a compatriot named Vassilios P. Tourogiannis, although he had not visited his village for decades and lived in a remote US location, he paid all his contributions to the Brotherhood. As soon as he learned the news of the creation of the new square without hesitation he immediately decided to donate the money for the construction of the Heroon and the statue of Nike.

So with the money of the senior benefactors and by the mobilization the U.S. and Canada Brotherhoods (Charlotte-Gastonia, Chicago, New England-Boston and Toronto) the necessary amount was raised and the project (new square, Church, Community Building and electric lighting) was completed in just two years, a record time.

Finally, with the donations of the first President and Leader of the Brotherhood Andreas S. Papastavridis and his wife Alexandra, a Library was created in the new Community Building. It was a fascinating initiative considering the fact that the designing, financing and execution of this project were done exclusively by a private initiative without any substantial state involvement.

In 2000 thanks to a E.U. financing program and with respect to the original design, the square was dressed in stone and is now a point of pride for the village. The project was completed in 2001 by replacing the roof at the Community Hall and by the installation of central heating sponsored by George J. Koutsogiorgas.

A lot of initiatives had been underway throughout the 1950s in order to bring electricity to the village. After taking under consideration all the plans, even for an autonomous grid, finally at the end of the 1950's decade the electricity network reached Karyes via the national electricity grid, at the expense of the Brotherhood's departments. In particular, the Brotherhood of Carolina paid $ 20,000, the Chicago Brotherhood $ 4,000 to cover the original amount necessary, while the Brotherhood of Toronto funded the Central Square electric lighting and the Matalion Institution funded the lighting of the Rachi Square.

The sports center

Another major work of the 1950s was the construction of the Karyes Sports Center. As we have mentioned in our previous tribute, a small stadium was created in Pinigoura. Thus, in 1951, under the Presidency of Paraskevas G. Koutsogeorgas and Konstantinos Mich. Pitsios and grace at an US $ 518 grant from the Brotherhood of America and the company "LEVENTIS", the "Karyatis" Sports Club purchased a piece of land adjacent to complete the site.

Then many other works took place with the expense of benefactors (Paraskevas and Christos P. Leventis, Andreas S. Trakas, Konstantinos Sp. Pitsios, G. Th. Skiouris and D.Th. Kakaris) such as the final expansion, shaping and fencing with a wall (1954) the construction of the Club's locker rooms (1958), the Host team's locker rooms (1981), and their renovation (2013) and new roof's placement (2019). Thus the Karyes Football Stadum can now accommodate up to 600 spectators in its stands, and it also has changing rooms for both teams.

In 1995 the Karyatis Sports Club completed the construction of the basketball-volleyball-tennis court above the football stadium thanks both to a donation provided by the children of Efstratios Costalas, but also by an E.U. financing Program. The court has stands up to 200 spectators.

It should be noted that in 2018, the great project for the electrification of the changing rooms, the basketball court and the football field in front of the stands was completed among with the installation of headlamps for night training.

The doctor's office and the pharmacy

Another request of the local residents and the visitors was the creation of a modern dispensary. Since 1950 the placement of a Community Medical Practitioner had been established in Karyes, but until the mid-1980s the Practitioner was temporarily housed in rented houses. Finally, the solution came once again through a will, and in particular through the will of Konstantinos Ath. Vrinios. The compatriot was born in 1913 in Karyes and was married to Marika Chrysikos. For many years he was the Director of the Alexandra Hospital's Dental Department in Athens, while at the same time maintaining his private clinic. He was a kind man, offering his services free to all of his fellow compatriots who were admitted to Athens hospitals provided to them the necessary care during the difficult years after the Nazi occupation until his death (1980). Having no children, his wife -with whom he shared his love for the village-, decided to fulfill his desire to donate their house to the Karyes Community in order to house the "Karyes local medical clinic". Therefore, with a moving ceremony on August 18, 1987, the donation was accepted by the village authorities and the house has become since then the "Karyes Medical Dispensary". Meanwhile the clinic was equipped with the necessary medical equipment with the money from the will of the sons of George Ath. Darmos, Ioannis, Elias and Athanasios and a new building was built in another part of the village to house the Karyes' Post Office.

The rest of the landscaping works and the Holy Temples

The first landscaping work took place in the 1950s on the hill of Aghios Ioannis (St. John), where the old Community Clock of Karyes had been blown up by the Nazis: The construction of the new Clock which was sponsored by Elias G. Iliopoulos, the son of the initial donor. The project was completed in 1959 and afterwards, the brothers Andreas, Konstantinos and Panagiotis N. Charakas proceeded to the formation of the space around the new clock and the St. John's / Aghios Ioannis Chapel, offering for this reason a part of their property. Finally the chapel was completely renovated in 2000 thanks to contributions from mainly Brotherhood expatriates but also from local residents.

In 1968, two marble statues of the Gods of Hestia and Demeter (donated by the Athenian municipality with the help of Andreas P. Castanas) were transported and placed on the main road at the entrance of the settlement of Karyes, while in 2018, the Karyates Association proceed to their preservation made by a specialist workshop.

In the lower settlement, the Rachi Square in 1970, was rebuilt and lit by a donation from Matala Institution. At the same time in the school grove, Aghia Paraskevi Church was renovated, the courtyard was cemented by funds provided by many small donations. Also, a wall was built around it (donated by Athanasios Iliopoulos), while using money from the will of Panagiotis Chr. Pitsios, under the initiative of Konstantinos Th. Dandzikis, The Elementary School Library building was constructed.

In 2001, with funds from an E.U. programme, new interventions were made in the Church of St. Paraskevi with the removal of the whitewash and the revelation of the old stonework. At the same time, the whole courtyard was paved, the old library building was renovated and new railings were installed (donated by Panagiotis Odyssea Skiouris). At the same time, the statue of the benefactor Athanasios Matalas was preserved and moved to a more central location (donation of Mataleion Foundation).

As we have said many times, the Karyates distinguished for their faith in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Therefore since the postwar era there were many donations concerning either the erections of new Chapels or the renovations of existing ones and their enclosures. Furthermore, since 2017 the initiative "Voluntary Support and Landscaping Team of the Karyes' Churches and Chapels" has been formed.

Thus, in the 1960s and 1970s, the exterior enclosure of the Church of the Assumption (Panagia) was decorated with the construction of concrete corridors (donated by Andreas G. Lambrakis and Panagiotis G. Karygiannis inheritance). In 2002 a wide renovation took place. Particularly in the Church the limestones were removed and the stonework appeared, revealing pieces of carved marble that apparently belonged to the ancient Temple of Artemis (which was located in the same place), while the whole courtyard and the walls were paved.

In 1970 the Chapel of Aghios Nikolaos and the cemetery were cemented among with the street (donations by George K. Mentavlos and Panagiotis N. Charakas). In 2001 a new wall (donated by Stavros Mermigas) was built, while in 2010 the cemetery was expanded. The chapel of Aghioi Anargyroi was renovated in the 1960s (donation Georgios Nikou Charakas) and in 2019-20 thanks to an initiative of the Volunteer Group it was restored to address the problem of static emergence. Also, the one destroyed by the Germans Birth of Theotokos chapel in the settlement "Fotinou" has been rebuilt by the Ardamis brothers in 1988.

At the same time, we had the construction of new chapels. In October 1980, the inauguration of Agios Dimitrios by the newly elected Metropolitan of Sparta and Monemvasia Efstathios in the district of Vergatsoula, donated by George Th. Skiouris.

In May 1983, the Holy chapel of Agia Kyriaki was also inaugurated by Metropolitan Efstathios on Karyes-Sparti Road on a plot of land owned by Meletios Meleche at the expense of himself and Panagiotis Goudes. Finally, the most recent chapel of Karyes, that of Pammegisti Taxiarches at the entrance of the village, was founded and built in 1997 at the expense of Epamineondas Kastanas. Its opening, in the presence of the Metropolitan of Sparta and Monemvasia Efstathiou, took place in July 1998.

Finally, in 1994 the inauguration of the priest's house in Karyes took place in a property owned by the Dimitroulas brothers. More specifically, Nikolaos Dimitroulas and his wife Paraskevi, having no children, decided to inherit the house in the Community of Karyes after their death so that it could be used as the home of the respective Priest of Karyes.

The construction of Caryatids Monument

In the 1970s, the replacement of the original statues in the Erechtheion of the Acropolis of Athens with copies, in order to protect them from air pollution, was the occasion for the dreams of the Caryatids to come true and mobilized the Karyates Association to construct a Monument of the Caryatids in their hometown.

Thus, in the spring of 1981, the construction of the Monument begins, a work identical to that of the Athens Erechtheion on the ancient acropolis of Karyes.

As we read in the book of Panagiotis Macheras, the Karyates Association president for many years (2):

"The project was carried out exclusively with the willing, enthusiastic support of elite fellow citizens and the financial support of Karyates, without any other financial assistance, the Karyates Association planned, researched and found the appropriate bodies and executors of the project".

With the systematic support of the Arachovite Brotherhood "AI KARYAI" of Gastonia, USA, the brotherhood unions of Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Canada and Australia (Sydney, Melbourne), the project was completed in just two years (1981-1983).

On July 24, 1983, the inauguration of the monument, dressed in Pentelic marble, took place in a glorious ceremony and all the Karyates proudly climbed the rock to admire the work up close.

(1)"BYBLOS" (BOOK), Brotherhood of the Arachovites "AI KARYAI", Gastonia N.C. U.S.A. (1929), editorial Paraskevas John Meidanis.
(2) "KARYATIKA", Paraskevas John Meidanis and his son Dr. John Paraskevas Meidanis, Washington D.C.. A work consisting of two volumes (1950 and 1972), edited by the Brotherhood of the Arachovites "AI KARYAI" Gastonia, N.C. U.S.A. which has been awarded by the Athens Academy
(3)"KARYAI", writer Constantine Michael Pitsiοs (1948),
(4)"THE CONTEMPORARY KARYES LAKONIA" Panagiotis Stylianos Macheraσ (1987).
(5)"AI KARYAI", Karyates Association of Athens and Suburbs "ARACHOVA LAKEDEMONOS" (1950s).

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